I like to experience aesthetic extremes, so it is appropriate I ended up sitting through this one. It is perhaps the most beautifully choreographed movie I have seen — ever — with one perfectly arranged ninety second sequence after another, in seamless fashion yet summed into something quite incoherent and meaningless and indeed even obnoxious at times. But did L’Avventura make much sense either? (And like L’Avventura, Transformers 4 is way too long.) Michael Nielsen was correct in his advice to view this new release as an art film.
The movie poses the question of how the world would look if technologies of defense were no longer clearly superior to technologies of offense. The public choice answer seems to be that power shifts away from the Presidency, to the intelligence agencies, and to intellectual property holders, at least as first order effects. Output is reallocated toward rural areas.
The political subtext of the movie is indicated rather clearly by the eventual military alliance of the red, white, and blue-wearing Optimus Prime with the Chinese dragons, consummated in China of course. Unlike with the recent Godzilla movie, Japan is not the main intended Asian audience. The Hong Kong scenes are spectacular, but the film reaffirms the importance of “central government” (i.e., Beijing) control over Hong Kong in rather heavy-handed fashion. (This is done so transparently you could call it an anti-Straussian move — “hey, let’s make sure we get those shooting rights in Hong Kong again!”) You also get to see a Chinese guy beat up on the CIA, gratuitously, using some kind of traditional Chinese boxing technique.